Care Level: Advanced
Live Plant Safe: Yes
General Description: Discus may be one of the most popular and admired fish within the freshwater aquarium trade. Nothing quite compares to this incredibly beautiful South American cichlid! Originating from the Amazon River basin, Discus can be found in slow moving tributaries and forest pools that are heavily sheltered in tree roots, rock and vegetation. While caring for Discus has come a long way since their introduction in the 1930s, including that the majority of individuals within the aquarium trade are now produced on a commercial fishery basis (i.e., aquaculture or tank-raised) making them somewhat hardier than wild-caught specimens, Discus do still require exceptional dedication and attention from the hobbyist in order to thrive long term. Things that cannot be overlooked with this species include proper diet, water quality and water parameters (see ‘Care Requirements’ below). As their name suggests, Discus have a ‘disc-like’ body shape, and adults can reach a mature size of at least 6″ wide as they are tall. Discus come in an array of colors and patterns; this listing is for the Marlboro Red Discus, which have a beautiful hombre of orange-yellow-red tones. Discus are very social, and at the very least should be kept in pairs but more individuals are encouraged. Some squabbling may be observed between individuals as they sort out their pecking order. A solitary Discus is often one that is very withdrawn and skittish. Note: Offering aquacultured Discus is our first choice here at Aquatics Unlimited!
Diet Requirements: Discus are omnivores, but a greater portion of the diet should focus on feeding high quality protein items. Discus should never be fed live fish, beef heart or any other sort of mammalian meat as this can disrupt their digestive system. A diet made up of various high quality spirulina algae based and crustacean/invertebrate protein based frozen foods are ideal. These include, but are not limited to, bloodworms, daphnia, shrimps, krill, chopped clam, brine shrimp, and certain freshwater mixes. Variety is the spice of life in order to maintain color, immune function and longevity of your fish. Flake and pellet foods that are not nutritionally dense should be avoided. Certain freeze-dried foods are a better alternative, and live blackworms are a fun occasional treat.
Care Requirements: A minimum 75 gallon aquarium is ideal for a pair of small Discus; a group will require more space, particularly as they mature. This aquarium size, or larger, also provides a more stable environment needed for these delicate cichlids. Discus should not be introduced into a biologically immature aquarium. They are extremely intolerable of nitrite or ammonia, and will not endure deteriorating water parameters. Weekly water changes are needed to keep water parameters pristine (Nitrates < 10 ppm). Equipping the aquarium with a canister filter can also be advantageous to maintain a healthier and well oxygenated environment for Discus. Discus and live planted aquariums seem to go hand in hand in the hobby, as this type of aquascape is beneficial to make Discus feel more comfortable. If live plants are not a goal of your aquarium, the tank would need to be aquascaped generously with other cover (e.g., driftwood, fake plants, rocks) in order to provide the cover needed for this shy species. In the proper environment, Discus can become very bold and personable with their caretakers. Discus are not powerful swimmers and therefore prefer gentle water flow, in addition to softer water, warmer water, and a more acidic pH. Discus by nature are peaceful and will rarely conflict with tank mates. This timid nature, in addition to their large body size, however makes them not suitable for community aquariums that have overly rambunctious, competitive or somewhat aggressive species. Most hobbyists tend to keep Discus as a “species only” tank, but these fish have been successfully kept with docile South American shoaling tetra such as Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi), Rummynose tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus) and Bloodfin tetra (Aphyocharax anisitsi) for example. Extra care should be taken acclimating Discus; we advise using a drip acclimation method. Recommended water conditions, 82-84° F, KH 1-4, pH 5.0-7.0.
Purchase Size: Medium: 2” to 2-1/2”
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.